Ryder:SEALs of Honor, Book 14(3)

By: Dale Mayer

Devlin reported in for him and his partner, Easton. “Alpha team still in search of beta team.”

Ryder wanted to leave too but with another mission in mind. He studied the prisoner, wishing for an easy way to get him to talk. But men like this would take a bullet rather that give away their secrets.

Ryder glanced at Corey and said, “Keep him here. I’ll be back in five.”

Corey protested. But Ryder wanted to check the bomb maker’s house. Now that they’d left the bomb maker’s building, Ryder wanted to know who had showed up. The bomb blast would have alerted the rebels. Ryder raced back to where the remains of the dead man lay. Ryder kicked open the door, sending a hail of gunfire inside. Cries ripped through the house. He didn’t go inside but slipped around to the back and sent a message to Easton and Devlin.

Gunfire shot out from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The men were disorganized. As far as Ryder could tell, only two gunmen were inside. Ryder took a quick look through a broken window, popped off a shot, and one gunman dropped. Now that was more like it. The second gunman stood in front of an older man who cowered behind him. This then was the bomb maker. As soon as Ryder had a shot, he took out the final gunman and stepped through the window, holding his weapon on the bomb maker. “Ahmed Amin?”

The man glared at him, hate in his gaze.

Ryder nodded. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He motioned the man to move toward the front door. The bomb maker shook his head and dropped to his knees.

This wasn’t a kill mission as the bomb maker was wanted back at headquarters. Ryder quickly tied Ahmed’s hands, stripped him of his weapons and forced him outside. Within minutes he had him in the rendezvous enclosure beside Corey and the other prisoner.

With both prisoners now secure, Ryder gave Corey a hard grin. “Time to go to the extraction point.”

As they pulled back, Ryder’s comm crackled, and Easton said, “One man down. Mac’s been hit.”

Ryder’s heart sank. “Copy that.”

Following directions, they picked their way to where the beta team was pinned in a corner. With Corey holding the bound and gagged prisoners to the ground, Ryder slipped forward. He took out two insurgents and managed to get into the beta team’s hideout. Macklin was out, his left shoulder and chest bloody. “How bad?”

“He’s unconscious, but I’m sure he can walk when he’s awake again,” said Keenan, one of Mac’s unit.

Ryder slid a hand down and checked Mac’s pulse, his heartbeat strong and steady. A lot of blood stained his chest, and … air bubbles surfaced. Shit. Definitely a compromised lung. Time for a field dressing of the roughest sort. They had to get everybody to fall back so they could arrange for an emergency medical evac.

Mac needed care. Now. Ryder slapped a piece of thin plastic over the hole in Mac’s upper chest. The bubbles stopped, and Mac breathed easier. From his view of the position of the injury, Ryder figured the bullet just caught the tip of a lung. That was bad enough. Breathing would become damn near impossible soon. The blood-clotting field dressing was temporary at best.

With Mac’s wound bandaged, the men lay out a quick plan of cover fire and an even faster retreat. They had two vehicles available. They’d need both to get back behind enemy lines. Mac was big; then again so was Ryder. And time was running out for his friend.

One of Mac’s team said, “You okay to do this?”

Ryder shot him a frown and nodded. Why the question? Did everybody know Mac was with his best friend, Caitlyn? Or should Ryder say his ex-best friend? It didn’t matter. They were still a team. They’d never let women come between them before. He wouldn’t let one now. Although he had avoided Mac as much as possible and apparently that had been noticed. Some things hurt even after two years’ time.

Carrying Mac, Ryder retraced his steps with the other men covering his retreat.

With Easton and Devlin pulling up the rear, they returned to the vehicles. There, Ryder lay Mac on the back seat. They were at least an hour outside the next town and, if driving, another several hours from a medical center. All they could do was make Mac as comfortable as possible and try to keep him alive while arranging for a helo. Ryder did not know if the enemy had given up or been taken out. They saw no one as they drove to town. That, in itself, was suspicious as hell. No way to hide the direction they traveled or where they’d come from with the sand and dust they stirred up. They could only hope the cloud of dust at least hid them as targets until they could get clear.

This place was so damn riddled with land mines that they’d be lucky to get out in one piece as it was. Still, mission accomplished thus far, but, until Mac was safe and the prisoners were handed over, Ryder wouldn’t consider it a success.

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